Garden Diary - November 2011

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Tuesday, 22 November and Friday, 25 November 2011
We Wish You A Merry Fruitcake

I've been making white fruitcake around about Thanksgiving for literally decades. It's very popular - must be the brandy. Everyone likes my fruitcake but I don't tell them why it tastes so good.

Back in the beginning I could get bulk candied fruit - peel, pineapple rings, cherries, citron in huge pieces - at a nice grocery store in Westport Connecticut. (I hate the nasty little 8 ounce plastic tubs seductively displayed in the supermarket baking aisle at this time of year - poisonous green, dayglo red - yuck!) They stopped carrying it and I found a place in New York City. We moved to New Jersey and I would order over the telephone and have it shipped to me. (We're talking serious orgies of fruit cake baking.)

I called today and was told that they now only carry mixed candied fruit, tutti-frutti she called it. Now, it was bad enough when peel was only available diced, same with citron. But only mixed? I ask you. So I hunted on-line today and the first four sites claimed citron - any way, shape, or form - was unavailable. What? Am I asking for a whalebone corset? The fifth one, NutsOnline has citron as well as lemon and orange peel, pineapple, cherries. Decided to use their toll-free telephone number, spoke with a very pleasant lady, ordered my candied fruit which will be shipped today and - get this! - will be delivered tomorrow!

I braved the 2 days before Thanksgiving manic shopping crowds and bought a quite large bottle of acceptable brandy for my fruitcake baking orgy on Friday. Will put raisins and currants to soak tomorrow.

Measure out 3/4 cup each dark raisins, yellow raisins, and currants.
Put in a glass jar and add brandy or rum to cover. Let soak for 24 hours.

Must search out the CDs of carols, the Nutcracker, and suchlike - the cakes don't bake the same without appropriate musical accompaniment.

Speaking of musical accompaniment - are you familiar with the Salvation Army fruitcake song?

Second verse and chorus -

We never eat fruitcake 'cause fruitcake has rum.
And one little bite turns a man to a bum.
Now can you imagine a sadder disgrace
Than a man in the gutter with crumbs on his face?
Away, away with rum, by gum, with rum, by gum, with rum, by gum,
Away, away with rum, by gum, that's the song of the Salvation Army.

Measure 3/4 cup each candied lemon peel, candied orange peel, and candied citron. Cut
candied cherries in half, candied pineapple is slivered.


Drain raisins and dried currants, reserving soaking brandy. Add to prepared candied fruit.
Toss with about 1 cup flour to coat pieces and separate them.

White Fruitcake Recipe

Using a sturdy stand mixer cream 24 Tablespoons (3/4 pound) unsalted butter with 2 cups sugar
until light and lemon-colored. Add 6 whole eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each one. Next
measure 3 cups of flour. Set aside. measure 3/4 cup whole milk and add 1/4 cup brandy. Then
add flour and milk / brandy to butter mixture in several portions. Begin and end with
the flour. When well combined, pour over prepared fruit and mix by hand with a sturdy spoon.
Make sure that the prepared fruit at the bottom of the bowl is lifted and mixed into the batter.
Spoon into prepared pans - loaf pans lined with wax paper, Bundt pan greased and floured.

This quantity of candied fruit, brandy-soaked fruit, and batter will make one large Bundt cake OR
6 small loaf cakes OR one long loaf cake and 3 small loaf cakes. Bundt pan, even non-stick
needs to be well buttered and dusted with flour. Loaf pans should be lined with wax paper.

Bake in a slow oven at 275 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown and cake tester inserted into cake
comes out clean. Small loaves take about 2 hours 30 minutes, Bundt cake 3 hours 15 minutes. Allow
to cool in baking pans - 10 to 15 minutes for small cakes, 20 to 30 minutes for Bundt cake. Turn out
and remove wax paper as needed. Allow to cool completely. Spoon 1 Tablespoon brandy or rum over
each small cake, 4 to 6 Tablespoons over Bundt cake. Wrap well. Repeat brandy or rum every week.
(I usually bake around Thanksgiving so four anointings.) Cakes do not need refrigeration but do keep cool.

We wish you a merry fruitcake and a happy new year.

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